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jewish roots of christianity
The Significance of Passover

from the heart of threemacs

"Blessed Art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us by thy commandment and has commanded us to kindle the Passover Light....."


Have you ever celebrated  Easter by holding a Messianic Passover, known as the Seder meal?? 
Maybe this year you should...

If you are not Jewish, there are certain things that just tend to offend the Gentile mind... things we do not understand.   Most Gentiles have never worn a yarmulke... in fact, I looked this up in the dictionary and was shocked to find it wasn't in there!  That's because I was looking for yamaka or yamacha... just like a Gentile I guess.  Most of us have never celebrated Jewish feasts and certainly most of us have not understand or come close to appreciating the richness of the heritage we have been given spiritually by the Jewish people and from the Law of Moses itself.  I have never understood certain things about Jewish traditions, even those that are in the Bible.  But I am starting to...

As one Jewish teacher I heard put it, if we celebrate holidays that have Pagan roots and assign spiritual significance to them (take Easter and Christmas for example), wouldn't it be more appropriate to celebrate the feasts and holidays that God gave His people?? It does make sense if you think about it... God's feasts probably hold a lot more symbolic meaning and depth of life than anything a good ole pagan could come up with...  I mean if we are going to roll around Easter eggs and put up Christmas trees (which I am not criticizing-- I can draw spiritual pictures of Messiah in both these exercises), then why can't we commemorate the very festivals that DIRECTLY point to the person, work, and ministry of Jesus??

Passover, for any Christian who has spent the time to actually study it, is the equivalent to the Easter holiday most of us celebrate.  There are three festivals or feasts or "rehearsals" of the LORD that are in view actually, as recorded and observed from Leviticus 23: Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits.  If it is any wonder that Passover is around the same time of the year as Easter, that is because the "Last Supper" that Jesus (Yeshua) and His 12 disciples were celebrating was His last PASSOVER meal that He shared with them before his death, burial, and resurrection. This was actually a "memorial" meal as the rest of Israel would sacrifice their Passover lambs the following evening, the 14th of Nisan, consistent with when Jesus was being offered up on the cross. In 30 CE (or AD), Jesus was crucified on that Wednesday and buried before the "Sabbath" day that was observed as part of the feast of Passover, the following Thursday.  If you would like to see a more pictorial depiction of these days, see our Passion Week chart.

Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. 
And he said to the Jews, "Behold your King!" 
 But they cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!" 
Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" 
The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar!"
Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led Him away.
  John 19:14-16

Easter commemorates the death and burial of the Lord Jesus, and as a remembrance of this event, Christians participate in what we call Communion or the Lord's Supper.  The "Lord's Supper" for most of us is taking of grape juice and a wafer... but the ORIGINAL Lord's Supper was the entire Passover meal.   The Passover looks back at the delivery of the Jewish people from the power of Pharaoh just as communion looks back at our delivery from the power of sin.   Many of us do not understand the significance of Communion because we have never participated in a Passover meal... the traditional Passover celebrated by Jews worldwide today is essentially the SAME meal that Jesus celebrated with the disciples on that fateful night.  What we know of as "Good Friday", is really more correctly "Good Wednesday" and what we know as the "Lord's Supper" is really the "Lord's Passover".

Why does the Passover matter so much? Why should it be that big of a deal?? We're not Jewish, so why do we need to celebrate a Jewish festival?  Friends, we may not be Jewish, but we are MESSIANIC... we are Messianic Gentiles just as those of our Jewish  brothers who have received Jesus as Messiah are Messianic Jews.   Because of our faith in the Jewish Messiah, we need to hold dear the things that God held dear to them... the "Older" Testament was not "done away with" in Messiah... rather the Law was fulfilled completely so that we would not have to find our righteousness in it, but in the person the Law, the Writings, and the Prophets pointed to: Yeshua (see Luke 24:44).  To the degree that we understand our place in the olive tree, a wild branch grafted in, is the degree to which we will understand ALL that Jesus died to give us.  Let's take a quick look at why you should celebrate a Messianic Passover as part of your "Christian" experience.

Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. 
For indeed Messiah, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 1 Cor 5:7

What is all this talk about leaven and why is it linked to Passover?? Well, if we were Jewish, we would understand that for the period of days (and sometimes weeks) leading up to the Passover feast, the Jewish household would rid their house of ALL leaven (leaven is symbolic for sin).  This is a picture of our own self examination and our own putting away of idols and sin from our lives.  When the last bit of "leaven" was removed from the house and the final cleansing ceremony (known as Bedikat Hametz) was  performed, the Father of the house would make the pronouncement "God, our home has been purged of all leaven to the best of my knowledge and is now ready for your presence."  Does this shed any light on the Apostle Paul's instruction (who was a Jew of Jews himself):

But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 1 Cor 11:28

Paul (or Saul, as his Jewish/Hebrew friends would have called him) was writing this admonition to a predominantly Gentile (or non-Jewish) body of believers in Corinth.  They did not understand a lot of things because many did not have Jewish heritage to fall back on... Paul corrected them for many things most Jews would never have to think twice about.  For example, sexual immorality still seemed to be an issue for many believers coming out of a pagan society.  It appears too from Paul's instructions about the Lord's Table that many did not understand the significance of the meal.  How many Gentiles today understand the concept of purging ourselves from the sin that so easily entangles us so that we are READY for the presence of the LORD??  How many of us do not experience the presence of God in our midst because we have not removed the leaven from our midst??  Paul said for us to purge out the old leaven, so that we be a new lump... for Messiah our Passover (Paschal)  lamb has been sacrificed for us! 

Why is Jesus called the Passover lamb?? Consider briefly the description of the Passover lamb that was a normal part of the feast for countless years after God gave Moses the command to keep this feast. 

On the tenth of the Jewish month Nisan, the Passover lamb was led through the Sheep Gate for its journey to the temple. When it entered in, people would wave palm branches in all four directions and sing a Psalm known as the "Hallel".  The Hallel for those of you who do not know is "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord".  They laid palm branches down before the lamb as it walked.  Consider this from the Word of God:

So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them.
They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them.
And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; 
others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, 
saying: "Hosanna to the Son of David! 
'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!' Hosanna in the highest!"
Matt 21:6-9

The Passover lamb was taken to the Temple for four days for a specific purpose:  it was to be kept under close observation.  Why?  The Passover lamb had to be a spotless lamb.  Around 50 separate tests were performed to insure the lamb's purity.  On the fourteenth day of the month of Nisan, after the lamb was officially declared to be pure and free from defect, it was placed upon the altar at 9:00 AM.  The lamb remained until 3:00 PM in the afternoon.  At that time, the High Priest took a knife and slit the throat of the lamb and said "IT IS FINISHED".  After the death of the lamb, it was taken and then thrust on a vertical pole.  A horizontal pole was transfixed on this pole and the lamb was layed out on it so that its skin could be flayed.  The skin on its back was removed to ensure one thing:  that it was as pure on the inside as it was on the outside.  The heart of the lamb was removed and all the blood was drained from it.  In all of this exercise, not one bone of the lamb was broken.

After Jesus was lead into the city, He was watched closely by many in the temple area over the next four days.  He said Himself that they could have apprehended Him at any time because He was in the temple teaching almost the entire week!

Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? "I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and you did not take Me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled." Mark 14:48-49

The Pharisees, Scribes, Lawyers, and Teachers of Israel examined Yeshua thoroughly, quizzing Him about the Law and trying to catch Him in His own words!
And they sought to lay hands on Him, but feared the multitude, for they knew He had spoken the parable against them. So they left Him and went away.... Then they sent to Him some of the Pharisees and the Herodians, to catch Him in His words. When they had come, they said to Him, "Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? "Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?" But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, "Why do you test Me? Bring Me a denarius that I may see it." So they brought it. And He said to them, "Whose image and inscription is this?" And they said to Him, "Caesar's."  And Jesus answered and said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they marveled at Him.....
Then some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him; and they asked Him, saying: "Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man's brother dies, and leaves his wife behind, and leaves no children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother.  Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of all?  Then Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, "How is it that the scribes say that the Messiah is the Son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Spirit: 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool. Therefore David himself calls Him 'Lord'; how is He then his Son?" And the common people heard Him gladly. Mark 12:12-44

How do we know that Jesus passed all the tests?? Very simple.  God Almighty Himself spoke from Heaven that this lamb was spotless.. that He was pure... that He had glorified His name in Jesus!

"Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name." Then a voice came from heaven, saying, "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again."  Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to Him." Jesus answered and said, "This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.  Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.  And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself. This He said, signifying by what death He would die. John 12:27-33

This voice came for the sake of those who needed to know whether the lamb was pure... if Jesus had sinned with even His mouth, the Father would not have made this pronouncement!!!  Two voices from heaven marked the sinless life of Jesus... one when Jesus entered His ministry at age 30.  God said at that time, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."  The voice of the Father does not speak from heaven like that if someone has committed sin!  The first voice testified that Jesus had lived sinlessly for 30 years, up to the time of His baptism with the Holy Spirit at the River Jordan.   The second voice came three years later, at the culmination of Jesus ministry.  This voice testified once again that Jesus had not sinned during His public ministry.  The lamb was pronounced PURE by voice of God Himself!!

On the fourteenth day of Nisan, after Jesus had taken the Passover meal with His disciples the night before, faced betrayal in Gethsemane, and had endured a night long of anguish and torment at the hands of both Roman and Jewish officials,  He was lead away to be crucified at the third hour.  

Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him. Mark 15:25

For those of you who do not know, Mark wrote from the Jewish perspective, and the third hour was 9:00 AM in the morning.  [On a side note, the Apostle John used the Roman time system, and said that the TRIAL was still taking place at the 6th hour...  which by Roman time was 6:00 AM.. thus placing the trial BEFORE the crucifixion exactly as  would be expected] 

Jesus hung on the cross from 9 AM to 3 PM, when according to Scripture, Jesus voluntarily yielded up His spirit as an offering and cried, "IT IS FINISHED!".  By dying so quickly, the Lord Jesus did not have one bone broken as did the other two men beside Him (crucifixions normally were LONG and they were expedited by the breaking of a leg bone to bring the onset of suffocation even sooner).  Exactly at the SAME TIME that the High Priest slaughtered the Passover lamb of Israel, THE PASSOVER LAMB of the WORLD was slain and cried "IT IS FINISHED".  According to the Scripture, the veil of the temple where the Holy of Holies separated the glory of God from the fallen humanity was SPLIT in two, from top to bottom.  Jesus our Paschal Lamb has been sacrificed!!  The sacrifice has been paid... now purge the leaven ... purge all known sin from your life... remove the idols from your household... prepare your home and family for the PRESENCE of the Lord!  The veil has been torn.. the glory of the Lord is awaiting a resting place in the hearts of men and women today!  

This is just a glimpse of the significance of Passover... do you see why it is so important for our Gentile minds to be renewed in the heritage of our Jewish roots?? Traditionally there are four cups used in the Passover meal... each cup represents God's promise to His people found in Exodus 6:6-7.


The Cup of Sanctification:  I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

The Cup of Judgment:  I will deliver you from their bondage.

The Cup of Redemption:  I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm.

The Cup of Praise:  Then I will take you for my people.


Each of these cups plays significance in the Seder meal and is sipped at various times.  Of most importance to you and I is the third cup.... this it the CUP that Jesus took when He said, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." (1 Cor 11:25)  His shed blood has bought our sanctification, judgment, and redemption.  All of the promises of God are YES in Messiah... we understand that the Lord has redeemed us with an outstretched arm... the arms of the Messiah stretched out on a wooden cross!! 

The fourth cup is the cup that Jesus said, "I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." (Luke 22:18)  In a Messianic Jewish Passover, the fourth cup is not sipped out of respect for the Lord...

Friends, I am looking for the day when we will drink the fourth cup with the Lord Jesus... it's going to be a grand meal, and it is called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb!  That is when we will drink the cup with King Jesus... the bride will be wed to her groom... God has and will take us for a people for all eternity.  It is the CUP OF PRAISE!  

The Passover is not JUST a Jewish feast... no more than Jesus is JUST the King of the Jews (He is King of All as well!).  Consider getting together with brothers and sisters this year and putting on a Seder dinner... invite a Messianic Jew to lead it if no one is adventurous enough... many Messianic Jewish ministries carry "Messianic Jewish Haggadahs" which detail the words spoken, the table arrangements, the food prepared, and all the other details of the Seder meal.  Order 5 or 6 and host one in your house... or find a church that is hosting one this year around Easter.  I can recommend the Haggadah from Rock Of Israel as well as those published by Living Way Ministries.

Traditionally, at the completion of the Passover Seder, all gathered will repeat in unison:


"L'shanah haba ah biyershalayim!"


Let it be so Lord... let it be so Lord!!
Shalom and blessings to you in the name of Y'shua, our Messiah.

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